10 Design Tips for Outdoor Living Spaces
Use these 10 design tips to add beauty, charm and function to your outdoor living areas.
1. Enhance Visual Appeal
Make your outdoor living space feel dynamic and interesting by adding small accents, like sculpture or water features. The good news is that you don’t have to spend a fortune. Look for castoffs that lend visual appeal at flea markets or architectural salvage shops. If your space cannot accommodate a built-in fountain, consider a tabletop version instead. Also, tall columns make great plant stands!
2. Establish a Focal Point
Typically indoor rooms that are well designed build off a particular element in the room, such as a piece of furniture or art. This gives the eye something to focus on. The rest of the room’s furnishings and accents support that main piece. This very same principle can be adopted for outdoor living spaces as well — with a piece of furniture or an especially lovely view taking center stage.
3. Incorporate Various Seating Options
Providing as many seating choices as you can in your outdoor space will help guests enjoy it. Benches, chairs and small stools are all great choices. Chairs are a more flexible option, allowing guests more comfort and the ability to move them around as needed. A nice touch is including scaled-down versions for the kids so they have their own special seats. Just be sure not to have so many seats that it clogs traffic patterns.
4. Add a Fire Source
To put it plain and simple, a source of fire draws people, just like an indoor fireplace does on cold nights. It’s a place to gather around, get cozy and be together. If you have the space and room in your budget, consider a full size fire source. If not, look into fire pits, which are more affordable and provide flexibility. Make sure to check your local building codes to verify the rules regarding outdoor fires before you go out and invest in a fire source.
5. Organize Traffic Patterns
Establishing traffic patterns will make your outdoor space function better, no matter the size of your yard. There are a variety of ways to go about organizing traffic patterns, including building formal walkways, planting foliage to establish borders and corners, or creating shifts in hardscape materials.
6. Make Furnishings Do Double-Duty
Space is usually a valuable commodity in outdoor living areas, so it’s important that furniture and accessories are able to do double-duty. Benches that have storage space underneath, tables that open up and can be used as containers, and side tables that can also serve as planters or plant stands are all excellent options to consider.
7. Zone Your Space
Creative furniture arrangement is a great way to establish several uses for one outdoor space. For instance, placing a bench and dining table closer to a corner maximizes usable space in a smaller area, while in a larger one different textures or rugs are effective at breaking up dining and relaxation spots.
8. Strategically Screen the View
When planning your outdoor living space, you may want a certain area to be more private than another. One way to accomplish that goal is by using shrubs or dwarf trees as a screen. Another is a row of containers planted with vines growing up a trellis.
9. Lean on Containers for Color
Bring little pops of color and texture to your outdoor space with pots and planters of all shapes and sizes. It’s best to go with lightweight versions, unless you are able to put yours on movable bases so you can shift them around easily. Use a few pots at the corners of a patio or deck to establish boundaries, or try rotating a series of seasonal plants for a color palette that is always changing.
10. Connect to the Indoors
If you want to be sure that your outdoor living space gets used frequently, make sure it is easily accessible to indoor rooms. Try to locate your outdoor area in a place that offers refuge or is in a well-used traffic pattern, like off the living room or master bedroom.